This guide is meant to be something different, because of two reasons.
- Not all of us have a Graphic card before
- Also we are not familiar with that component too
We have already discussed about Graphic cards, its working and for what it is used for?
Now it’s time to learn “How to buy a Graphic card” or “How to choose the right Graphic card for you?”
I have already said that Graphic cards can be categorised into 2, based on their use.
- For viewing or editing HD videos
- For playing Games
Like we do for computer processors, we wish to get a Graphic card so that it can serve both the above two purposes.
Price increases proportionately to the performance
You might have thought of upgrading your Graphic card or buying a new one, only because of the reason that you couldn’t play your favourite games smoothly or couldn’t play it at all.
As I said in 3 Quick steps to choose a new Processor post, my desktop computer is old and is powered by Radeon HD 4670, 512MB Graphics card.
Though it’s pretty old, it runs even Crysis 2 game at medium-high settings at HD resolution, though my monitor is a Full HD one.
Since I opted for a 4 times faster processor while choosing the new processor, let me choose 4 times faster Graphic card than my current HD 4670, now.
So on comparing the benchmarks in AnandTech GPU bench, I found that HD 7870 2GB Graphics card is almost 4 times faster than HD 4670.
I heard from most people that they want at least 10-20 times faster computer than their present one, for playing games, which is practically impossible if you’re upgrading within a span of 5 years.
Here I expect 4 times faster Graphic card than mine, so I should be ready to allocate 4 times the money I allocated for my previous Graphic card. I bought HD 4670 for ₹5,000 a few years back and now HD 7870 costs around ₹20,500. But, when I bought my old card, even HD 4890 was priced at ~ ₹15,000, which is almost 2.5 times slower than HD 7870.
5 easy steps to choose the right Graphic card for you
1. Download and install some famous or highly recognised 3D benchmarks or Gaming benchmarks on your existing PC. Then run it and note down the benchmark score.
2. Decide the average budget for your Graphic card.
3. See the benchmark results of the Graphic cards in your budget range. If the new Graphic card’s performance level is above your expectations go to step 5 else move on to next step.
4. See for the Graphic cards which offer at least 30fps in some of the latest high end 3D games like Far cry 3, Crysis 2 etc. Once you have got hold of such a Graphic card, look for its price in India, using my upcoming Graphic card buying guide, or on online computer hardware shopping sites.
5. If the price is within your budget then find the entire range of Graphic cards from AMD and NVIDIA in that range, come to a decision after comparing the feature set and their performance in different benchmarks.
2 strategies to buy a Graphic card, if you’re under a tight budget
These 2 strategies are not a completely new strategy, but it’s something that everyone will not dare to do.
If you’re going to buy a Graphic card for only a specific purpose such as games and multimedia or 3D modelling etc., then, if you buy a latest Graphic card, which has less raw power, you will not gain much in terms of value. The latest Graphic card may be capable of doing all the things you need but also the things you may not need, still you pay for that too.
Assume that you’re buying your Graphic card just to play your favourite games and watch HD videos.
- HD 7850 for ₹14,000 – latest Graphic card with all features
- HD 7750 for ₹8,500 – latest Graphic card with all features but less raw power
- HD 5970 for ₹10,500 – 12,500 – on clearance sale (e.g.) not will all latest features, but with high raw power
If I were you I would go for option 3.
Because I can save around ₹ 6,000 – ₹4,000 and getting almost similar raw power of any ₹16,500 Graphic card, with which I can play almost all games at Full HD resolution in high – very high settings.
So simply, you can go for a latest Graphic card with all new features or a similarly priced, high raw power, older architecture based Graphics card, with fewer features.
This won’t hold well in all conditions except on some jaw dropping deals, because latest architecture will always be better, in terms of power consumption, noise and overclocking.
So, just have it as an option, when buying a new Graphic card, but don’t rely on this idea always.
The second strategy is to buy a used Graphic card with unexpired warranty.
There are many enthusiasts living in India, who needs the most powerful Graphic card, the next day of its release. So most often they sell their Graphic card on eBay.in within a year.
Those cards will have unexpired warranty, so even if you experience some problems after buying it, you can get it serviced in any authorized service centre for free!
Also eBay gives you 7 day return guarantee, so the seller cannot cheat and run away.
Keep one thing in mind; they are selling their cards to buy the new ones, so you will get it cheaper than a new one in market but not at some great discounts. Also this type of deals can be seen only during the time of new Graphic cards release.